Wouldst thou enjoy a long Life, a healthy Body, and a vigorous Mind, and be acquainted also with the wonderful Works of God?
Health and Happiness are two of the universal goals of all people. Many philosophers, spiritual teachers, the world's major religions, including Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have prized gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional state. Pastors, priests, parents and grandparents have long extolled the virtues of gratitude, but until recently, scholars have largely ignored it as a subject of scientific inquiry. Now doctors and psychologists have joined the chorus.
Medical research indicates that there is something you can do each day to be healthier and happier and it will cost you nothing and take very little time. Be grateful. Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, say their scientific study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being. Here are some of the benefits that a regular expression of gratitude brings.
A Healthier Lifestyle
Grateful people - those who embrace gratitude as a permanent trait rather than an occasional state of mind - have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health. Dr. Emmons' research on gratitude revealed "Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular medical checkups”. It seems that gratitude encourages more self appreciation, more self esteem and thus more self care.
Stress can make us sick, particularly when we do not cope with it in a healthy way. It's linked to the major causes of death, including heart disease and cancer, and is responsible for an estimated 90% of all doctor visits. Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress. Gratitude research indicates that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with the daily problems of a stressful life.
Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that the boosts the immune system. Dr. Lisa Aspinwall, professor of psychology at the University of Utah reported on some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function. Researchers comparing the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress found that students who were optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained higher numbers of the healthy blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with their more pessimistic classmates.
Optimism also has a positive health impact on people with already compromised immune systems. In separate studies, patients diagnosed with AIDS, as well as those about to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.
Noted clinical psychologist Dr. Blair Justice professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health states: "A growing body of research supports the notion that rediscovering a sense of abundance by thinking about those people and things we love lowers the risks of coronary events".
PRACTICE : Start each day by simply focusing on three to five things for which you can be grateful for. This will increase your health and happiness. Everyone has something to be grateful for. Just being alive is a big one. Being able to breathe, or enough money for lunch, or a roof over your head are all things we can be grateful that we have, but we often take these for granted. Failing to reflect on the everyday benefits of being alive may be a big mistake, robbing you of the opportunity for a healthier, happier life
RECORD your gratitude. Many people including myself have found even greater rewards from practicing gratitude by keeping a daily list of things they we grateful for in a ‘Gratitude Journal”. You can jog your memory with questions like "Who has helped me today?, What has touched me?, What has inspired me?" Stressed people have trouble finding beauty or seeing life in a positive way. Answering these three questions inspires us to see the stuff of our days through fresh eyes. This practice is made even more powerful when one finds time to re- read the gratitude lists.
EXPRESS your gratitude. The benefits of gratitude can be further amplified to produce an even stronger dose of health and happiness, by regularly expressing your feelings of thankfulness to someone else. Holding the thought of gratitude and sharing that feeling to a friend will benefit both of you. Bosses who remember to say "thank you" to their staff may find that their employees are motivated to work harder.
SHARE your gratitude. Gratitude becomes infectious. Look for ways to share your blessings. It can express itself in simple ways like with a smile, a blessing, a prayer, a note or phone call. As the famous commercial advices “Just do it”. Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.